Isaiah 61:1-11

Isaiah 61:1-11
Narrative Lectionary


The spiritI of the LordII GodIII is upon me
    because the LordIV has anointedV me;

Notes on verse 1a

I “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
II “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
III “God” = YHVH. From the same as YHVH (the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton; pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place); {from havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be)}. This is a secondary spelling of the Lord, the name of the God of Israel. It has the same meaning.
IV “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “God” in v1. See note III above.
V “anointed” = mashach. This is smear, paint, spread, or paint. It can also be to rub with oil or, otherwise stated, to anoint. This implies a consecration. This root verb is where the word “messiah” comes from.

he has sentVI me to bring good newsVII to the oppressed,VIII
    to bind upIX the brokenhearted,X

Notes on verse 1b

VI “sent” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
VII “bring good news” = basar. This is being a messenger, to publish, carry, or preach. Properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news.
VIII “oppressed” = anav. From anah (to be bowed down; can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is poor, needy, afflicted as well as humble or meek.
IX “bind up” = chabash. This is to wrap tightly or bind, to bandage, or heal. It can be to saddle an animal or wrap a turban. Figuratively, it can mean to stop or to govern.
X “brokenhearted” = shabar + leb. Shabar is break, collapse, destroy, break in pieces, tear. It is bursting in a literal or figurative sense. Leb may be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.

to proclaimXI libertyXII to the captivesXIII
    and releaseXIV to the prisoners,XV

Notes on verse 1c

XI “proclaim” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XII “liberty” = deror. 8x in OT. This is flowing quickly – hence flowing free, release, and liberty. It can also mean pure or clear.
XIII “captives” = shabah. This is to carry away into captivity, bring away, capture, lead away.
XIV “release” = peqach-qoach. 1x in OT. From paqach (open eyes). This is an opening, particularly from a dungeon. So, figuratively, it can be freedom or salvation.
XV “prisoners” = asar. This is to tie, yoke, bind, or fasten. It can mean to harness an animal, to join in fighting a battle, or to imprison someone.

to proclaim the yearXVI of the Lord’sXVII favorXVIII
    and the dayXIX of vengeanceXX of our God,XXI

Notes on verse 2a

XVI “year” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
XVII “Lord’s” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
XVIII “favor” = ratson. From ratsah (to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor; to approve or consent regarding something; can be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned). This is delight shown in favor, good will, something that is accepted or acceptable.
XIX “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
XX “vengeance” = naqam. 17x in OT. From naqam (to avenge, punish, have a grudge, execute). This can be a quarrel or vengeance.
XXI “God” = Elohim.

    to comfortXXII allXXIII who mourn,XXIV
to provideXXV for those who mourn in ZionXXVI

Notes on verses 2b-3a

XXII “comfort” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
XXIII “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XXIV “who mourn” = abel. 8x in OT. From abal (to mourn, bewail). This is mourning or a mourner.
XXV “provide” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XXVI “Zion” = Tsiyyon. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness, drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.

    to giveXXVII them a garlandXXVIII instead ofXXIX ashes,XXX

Notes on verse 3b

XXVII “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XXVIII “garland” = p’er. 7x in OT. From paar (to beautify or adorn, to gleam; can refer to showing honor or glorifying someone; also to boast or to shake a tree for harvest). This is beauty or embellishment. It is used of priestly headdresses, garlands, ornaments, and turbans.
XXIX “instead of” = tachat. This is underneath, below, the bottom, instead of.
XXX “ashes” = epher. Root may mean to strew. This is ashes or dust.

the oilXXXI of gladnessXXXII instead of mourning,XXXIII
    the mantleXXXIV of praiseXXXV instead of a faintXXXVI spirit.

Notes on verse 3c

XXXI “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.
XXXII “gladness” = sason. From sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful). This is rejoicing, cheerfulness, and welcome.
XXXIII “mourning” = ebel. Related to “who mourn” in v2. From abal (see note XXIV above). This is mourning or lamentation.
XXXIV “mantle” = maateh. 1x in OT. From atah (to wrap, cover, veil, be clad, turn aside). This is a wrap, mantle, or garment.
XXXV “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
XXXVI “faint” = keheh. 9x in OT. From kahah (to darken, grow faint, fail, be weak, have one’s eye dim or become dull). This is dark, faded, feeble, dim, smoking, or obscure. It can also mean abated.

They will be calledXXXVII oaksXXXVIII of righteousness,XXXIX

Notes on verse 3d

XXXVII “called” = qara. Same as “proclaim” in v1. See note XI above.
XXXVIII “oaks” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.
XXXIX “righteousness” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.

    the plantingXL of the Lord,XLI to display his glory.XLII
They shall build upXLIII the ancientXLIV ruins;XLV

Notes on verses 3e-4a

XL “planting” = matta. 6x in OT. From nata (to fix or fasten, establish or plant; planting in a literal or figurative sense). This is the act or location of planting or the thing planted. It can be a garden or vineyard. It can also refer to people.
XLI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
XLII “display…glory” = paar. Related to “garland” in v3. 14x in OT. See note XXVIII above.
XLIII “build up” = banah. This is to build, make, set up, restore, repair, or obtain children. It is to build literally or figuratively.
XLIV “ancient” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
XLV “ruins” = chorbah. From chareb (to be waste or desolate, destroyer). This is ruin, desert, waste place. Properly, it is a drought, which implies a desolated or decayed place.

    they shall raise upXLVI the formerXLVII devastations;XLVIII

Notes on verse 4b

XLVI “raise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
XLVII “former” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.
XLVIII “devastations” = shamem. This is to stun or become numb. It can also mean to devastate or be appalled. Can also mean to be amazed or astonished.

they shall repairXLIX the ruinedL cities,LI
    the devastations of many generations.LII

Notes on verse 4c

XLIX “repair” = chadash. 10x in OT. This is to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild.
L “ruined” = choreb. 16x in OT. From chereb (any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock); from charab (to dry up because of drought, destroy, or make waste, kill). This is drought, heat, desolation.
LI “cities” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
LII “many generations” = dor + dor. Literally, “generation and generation.” From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.

StrangersLIII shall standLIV and feedLV your flocks;LVI

Notes on verse 5a

LIII “strangers” = zur. This is one who comes from someone else – a stranger. It is one who stops for lodging. Figuratively, it can also mean profane or one who commits adultery.
LIV “stand” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
LV “feed” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
LVI “flocks” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.

    foreignersLVII shall till your landLVIII and dress your vines,LIX
but you shall be called priestsLX of the Lord;LXI

Notes on verses 5b-6a

LVII “foreigners” = ben + nekar. Literally, “the children of the foreigner.” Ben is related to “build up” in v4. From banah (see note XLIII above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Nekar is from the same as neker (misfortune, disaster). This is foreign or something that is foreign i.e. strange.
LVIII “till…land” = ikkar. 7x in OT. May come from a root that means dig. It is a farmer or one who tills land.
LIX “dress…vines” = karam. 5x in OT. From kerem (vineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage). This is to dress vines.
LX “priests” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
LXI “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.

    you shall be namedLXII ministersLXIII of our God;LXIV
you shall enjoyLXV the wealthLXVI of the nations,LXVII

Notes on verse 6b

LXII “named” = amar. This is to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report.
LXIII “ministers” = sharath. This is ministering, serving, or waiting on. It can refer to one offering service as a worshipper or one serving as a servant.
LXIV “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v2. See note XXI above.
LXV “enjoy” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
LXVI “wealth” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.
LXVII “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

    and in their richesLXVIII you shall glory.LXIX
BecauseLXX their shameLXXI was doubleLXXII

Notes on verses 6c-7a

LXVIII “riches” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
LXIX “glory” = yamar. 1x in OT. This is to exchange, boast. It implies switching places.
LXX “because” = tachat. Same as “instead of” in v3. See note XXIX above.
LXXI “shame” = bosheth. From bosh (properly, to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion). This is shame as a feeling and a thing that creates shame. It can also mean humiliation, confusion, or be used specifically for an idol.
LXXII “double” = mishneh. From shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is double, second, next, duplicate. It can also be second in rank or age.

    and dishonorLXXIII was proclaimedLXXIV as their lot,LXXV

Notes on verse 7b

LXXIII “dishonor” = kelimmah. From kalam (bearing shame, bringing dishonor or disgrace, humiliate insult, taunt, embarrass, reproach; properly to wound in a figurative sense). This is insult, disgrace, dishonor, humiliation, shame, or reproach.
LXXIV “proclaimed” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
LXXV “lot” = cheleq. From chalaq (to be smooth in a figurative sense; can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute; figuratively, it can also mean to flatter). This is a division, lot, inheritance, legacy, or portion. It can also refer to a smooth tongue.

thereforeLXXVI in their landLXXVII they shall possessLXXVIII a double portion;

Notes on verse 7c

LXXVI “therefore” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
LXXVII “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
LXXVIII “possess” = yarash. This is inheriting or dispossessing. It refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them. By implication, it can mean to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish.

    everlastingLXXIX joyLXXX shall beLXXXI theirs.
For I, the Lord,LXXXII loveLXXXIII justice,LXXXIV

Notes on verses 7d-8a

LXXIX “everlasting” = olam. Same as “ancient” in v4. See note XLIV above.
LXXX “joy” = simchah. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
LXXXI “be” = hayah. Related to “God” and “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
LXXXII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
LXXXIII “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
LXXXIV “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.

    I hateLXXXV robberyLXXXVI and wrongdoing;LXXXVII

Notes on verse 8b

LXXXV “hate” = sane. This is to hate, an enemy. It is a personal hatred and not an abstract one.
LXXXVI “robbery” = gazel. 4x in OT. From gazal (to snatch, take violently, seize, tear away; to flay or rob). This is robbery, plunder – taking something by violence.
LXXXVII “wrongdoing” = olah. From alah (to go up, climb, approach, bring; to be high or actively climb; can be literal or figurative). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole thing is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.

I will faithfullyLXXXVIII give them their recompense,LXXXIX
    and I will makeXC an everlasting covenantXCI with them.

Notes on verse 8c

LXXXVIII “faithfully” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
LXXXIX “recompense” = peullah. 14x in OT. From paal (to do, make, work, or accomplish; generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – to practice). This is work, deed, reward, or wages.
XC “make” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
XCI “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.

Their descendantsXCII shall be knownXCIII among the nations
    and their offspringXCIV amongXCV the peoples;XCVI

Notes on verse 9a

XCII “descendants” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
XCIII “known” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
XCIV “offspring” = tseetsa. 11x in OT. From yatsa (to go or come out, bring forth, appear; to go out in a literal or figurative sense). This is that which comes forth i.e. offspring, children, crops, springs, etc.
XCV “among” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
XCVI “peoples” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

all who seeXCVII them shall acknowledgeXCVIII
    that they are a peopleXCIX whom the LordC has blessed.CI

Notes on verse 9b

XCVII “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XCVIII “acknowledge” = nakar. This is to recognize, examine, take notice, show, scrutinize. It is looking at something in a fixed way, showing perhaps respect or reverence. Alternately, it can show gazing with suspicion. Also, it can mean being strange towards someone or something and rejecting or ignoring it.
XCIX “people” = zera. Same as “descendants” in v9. See note XCII above.
C “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
CI “blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.

10 I will greatly rejoiceCII in the Lord;CIII
    my whole beingCIV shall exultCV in my God,CVI

Notes on verse 10a

CII “greatly rejoice” = sus + sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
CIII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
CIV “whole being” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
CV “exult” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
CVI “God” = Elohim. Same as “God” in v2. See note XXI above.

for he has clothedCVII me with the garmentsCVIII of salvation;CIX

Notes on verse 10b

CVII “clothed” = labash. This is to wrap around, which implies clothing oneself or someone else. This is wrapping around in a literal or figurative way.
CVIII “garments” = beged. From bagad (to cover or conceal; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage). This is clothing, garment, robe, or some other kind of clothing. Figuratively, it can be treachery or pillaging.
CIX “salvation” = yesha. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free). This is salvation, deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, liberty.

    he has coveredCX me with the robeCXI of righteousness,CXII

Notes on verse 10c

CX “covered” = yaat. Related to “mantle” in v3. 1x in OT. Perhaps from atah (see note XXXIV above). This is to clothe or cover.
CXI “robe” = meil. From maal (to cover up; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to be unfaithful or transgress). This is a robe, mantle, or cloak – an outer garment.
CXII “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Related to “righteousness” in v3. From the same as tsedeq (see note XXXIX above). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.

as a bridegroomCXIII decksCXIV himself with a garland
    and as a brideCXV adornsCXVI herself with her jewels.CXVII

Notes on verse 10d

CXIII “bridegroom” = chathan. From chathan (to intermarry, make an alliance through marriage, father-in-law, son-in-law, give one’s daughter in marriage). This is bridegroom, son-in-law. It is someone who is related through marriage. Figuratively, it can be a child who is circumcised
CXIV “decks” = kahan. Related to “priests” in v6. From kohen (see note LX above). This is officiating as a priest does over religious service. It can also figuratively mean donning regalia or formal ornamentation/attire.
CXV “bride” = kallah. Related to “all” in v2. Perhaps related to kalal (see note XXIII above). This is bride or daughter-in-law and the term is used before and after marriage.
CXVI “adorns” = adah. 10x in OT. This is to advance or continue. It can also mean to take away or remove. Plus, it has a specific usage as adorning oneself with ornaments.
CXVII “jewels” = keli. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.

11 For as the earthCXVIII brings forthCXIX its shootsCXX
    and as a gardenCXXI causes what is sownCXXII in it to spring up,CXXIII

Notes on verse 11a

CXVIII “earth” = erets. Same as “land” in v7. See note LXXVII above.
CXIX “brings forth” = yatsa. Related to “offspring” in v9. See note XCIV above.
CXX “shoots” = tsemach. 12x in OT. From tsamach (to sprout, grow – literal or figurative). This is a sprout or growth, literal or figurative.
CXXI “garden” = gannah. 12x in OT. From gan (garden that is fenced in; an enclosure); from ganan (to put a hedge around – generally, protect or defend; to cover or surround). This is a garden or an orchard.
CXXII “what is sown” = zerua. Related to “descendants” in v9. 2x in OT. From zara (see note XCII above). This is something sown, a plant.
CXXIII “spring up” = tsamach. Related to “shoots” in v11. See note CXX above.

soCXXIV the LordCXXV GodCXXVI will cause righteousnessCXXVII and praise
    to spring up beforeCXXVIII all the nations.

Notes on verse 11b

CXXIV “so” = ken. Same as “therefore” in v7. See note LXXVI above.
CXXV “Lord” = Adonai. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note II above.
CXXVI “God” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note IV above.
CXXVII “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Same as “righteousness” in v10. See note CXII above.
CXXVIII “before” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

Image credit: “2 Bodies of Light” by Martin Cabello III, 2022.

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